The Dutch artist Caroline Westerhout grew up in Weert, a small town on the south-east Netherlands border with Belgium, and as a child spent much of her time drawing, most often naked women, so it is little wonder that women’s bodies remain the focus of many of her paintings. After leaving school she studied at the Graphic Lyceum in Eindhoven, then worked for a while as a graphic designer. Around 2000 she started to explore oil painting, developing her trademark strong, personal style, and in 2008 became a full-time painter.
In conventional artspeak the subject of Caroline Westerhout’s naked-woman paintings would be ‘the nude’, but her studies of nakedness go far beyond such conventions. She uses paint to explore the intimate and close-up contours of the naked body, resulting in a more immediate relationship between the viewer and her subject – very often modelled, with the aid of photographs, on herself. Her work invites her audience to participate in an exploration of relationships and emotions, a shared quest requiring, often demanding, a personal response.
Westerhout’s current work mostly consists of portraits, but not in the traditional sense. Despite being an avid lover and practitioner of classical painting techniques, she finds it exciting to experiment. She alternates figuration with raw, abstract elements, and plays with deformation and perspective. She finds it interesting to create a duality between the refined, realistic parts of the face, and coarse strokes and less elaborate surfaces. This combination of styles and techniques creates movement, emotion, and an exciting new perspective.
Caroline Westerhout lives and works in Veldhoven, an eastern suburb of Eindhoven, and her paintings are regularly shown in galleries in the Netherlands and further afield.